Today, in honor of both Father’s Day and the anniversary (I won’t tell you how many) of my own pop’s birth, I wanted to write for my dad, and this time i don’t intend to call him a cheat. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Las Cruces because I have official civil duties to do early in the morning, but just because I’m not hanging out with my dad today, it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of him.
The first day of kindergarten, one little red-headed kid went home with a note pinned to her shirt. That kid was me, and the note read “Upon being asked to listen carefully to directions, Opal responded ‘We don’t need no stinking destructions!’ I think you might want to do something about this.” I learned this phrase from my dear old dad, who didn’t trust instruction booklets. I think he may still have this note somewhere. He likes to pull the story out of his file box and air it off when the family is gathered ’round.
When I was 3, mom packed up the car with my brother and sister and drove to the county fair before I woke up. When I stumbled into the livingroom in my typical summer pj’s that consisted of a long t-shirt with a cat on it, dad was filling up his coffee thermos to go push some brush. When he saw that I’d been left behind from the fun to be had at the fair, he dressed me (in my red boots, my favorite t-shirt, which had the little mermaid on it, and some green shorts… I still have the picture), packed me into his red pickup, and drove me to the fair himself. When we passed a field of sunflowers and I ood and awed over them, he stopped and picked some for me, which wilted in my hair in the August sunlight. Once we got to the fair, he stopped at the Cowbelle’s booth and bought a cinnamon roll and some hot chocolate for me, and, once we were done, took me to see the cows, hefting me up on his shoulders so that I could pet their soft noses. apparently, there’d been some failure of communication, but I didn’t mind getting forgotten since I got to spend the day with my da.
When I graduated, dad drove all the way to Corona, even though driving distances bothers his health. And even though sitting in folding plastic chairs for too long causes him pain, he sat through my whole Valedictory speech, our slide show, and all the little processionals we used to stretch out the process. When we were done, I stood in the back getting hugs and presents from friends and family. Dad gave me a big hug, trying to hide the fact that he’d been crying furiously. He hugged me so hard that my glasses got smudged by his wet cheek. I couldn’t help but cry too. Just knowing he was proud of me was enough to supplant the rest of the day’s pomp.
Happy Father’s Day and happy birthday, Old Man.